Minnesota’s Outlaw Poetry Students
Did I mention Coursera is free?
I’m taking a Modern Poetry Class with Coursera. It’s free (which is stunningly amazing), offers no credit. I expect no credit—I’m not working toward a degree.
And with each close reading of Dickinson and Kerouac, each synapses that fires, I am violating state law.
Notice for Minnesota Users
Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.
To Summarize: my state won’t let me take a free course because I might lose money. Did I mention the course is free?
I am baffled. I think the roots of this odd quasi-enforcement have to do with Minnesotans wasting their time and money (and state funding) on for-profit schools that offer little chance of graduating. But here the fear has been applied in broad brush strokes, since there was no promise of credit or degrees. Minnesota’s one-size-fits-all solution does not fit. That needs revisiting.
But I’m OK. Because every time I read my readings and watch the lectures, I find myself back at UW Madison law library with the chain smokers and worried scribblers. Or back in Iowa next to the Des Moines River. Or back anywhere that isn’t Minnesota. Because Minnesota’s dream of enforcement is about that likely, and much less credible.
Addendum: It looks like my state found a finer brush to paint our laws: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/19/minnesota_coursera_ban_state_won_t_crack_down_on_free_online_courses_after.html